“She Shapes History”
Historical exhibit about the fight for ratification of the women’s suffrage 19th Amendment – presented by the League of Women Voters of the Northampton Area
Outdoor Covid-safe Walking Tour in Florence Center starts on April 3
Grand Opening 10 a.m. April 10 outdoors at Florence Civic Center
Exhibit on display in seven windows on Main and Maple Streets.
The visiting exhibit “She Shapes History” opens Saturday, April 3 in seven storefronts in Florence Center. Visitors can view the panels in business windows during daylight hours through mid May. All are welcome to attend a short outdoor opening gathering Saturday, April 10 at 10 AM outside Florence Civic Center.
Well-researched informational panels celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution through which women won the right to vote. They tell the stories of unsung heroes, including local suffragists Elizabeth Freeman (Mumbet) and Sojourner Truth. Also included are the foot soldiers including those from African American women’s suffrage clubs, immigrant women, Native American women, factory workers and labor union organizers. It covers the struggle and the impact of activist women over two centuries up to the Woman’s March of 2016. It aligns with the League of Women Voters’ mission to “finish the fight” by promoting access to the vote for all. This has been a focus of initiatives by the LWV, which was formed shortly after the passage of the 19th Amendment, and continues to actively work for equal access to the vote today.
The exhibit is on loan from The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield where it originated. It is presented in a series of panels that have been impeccably researched and include period photos and text with details of the activism of suffragists, many of whom had been too often forgotten in historical records. The League of Women Voters of the Northampton Area is bringing the exhibit to Florence in collaboration with the Florence Civic and Business Association, JFK Middle School, the David Ruggles Center and businesses and organizations like the Trustees of Reservations.
Visitors will be able to view the panels from the sidewalk – socially distanced – an opportunity for a museum quality experience in a safe way – especially as spring gives us hope and reminds us of the vibrancy and history of our local community.
Members of the League of Women Voters of the Northampton Area, which was founded in 1922, have been especially interested in learning about the unsung heroes of the fight for women’s suffrage as they planned events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the amendment.. A book group meeting at Lilly Library in the fall of 2019 pursued the topic. Members developed lists of both adult and young adult books for librarians and educators about these activists, including Florence resident Sojourner Truth. When area members of the League of Women Voters were able to secure the loan of the exhibit, a location in Florence was a natural choice because of the historical connections to influential suffragists Truth. Health safety concerns resulting from the pandemic suggested the outdoor walking tour of the exhibit.
In planning this exhibit members of the LWV have been collaborating with teachers at JFK Middle School who have used the material as significant portions of their March Women in History curriculum studies. Local middle school students, who have developed expertise on the topic of the suffragist heroes of history are expected to tour the exhibit for followup studies.
Membership in the League of Women Voters is open to all who are interested. More information about local LWV activities can be found at the local LWV website lwvnorthamptonarea.org .
Locations of Exhibit
89 Main Street
Trustees of Reservations – 100 Main Street
82-86 Maple Street
Florence Village Flowers– 3 North Maple Street
1 North Main Street 2 windows on North Maple side of the building
16 North Maple Street
Note: all regular programming is currently on-hold due to COVID-19.
Queer Voices Book Discussion Group
Yoga at the Library
Informal Chess Club